Your favorite scales (and positions) for soloing

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by nikoolaa, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Looking back at what I recorded for a jazz-blues playalong thread, I was making up a melody in real time. This is made possible by working on intervals like minor 3rds, perfect 4ths, and so on - knowing how they sound, as well as what they look like on the fretboard. I really had to make up a melody because the backing track was for a generic chord progression, not a real tune or anything.

    When I slipped in some nonsense scalar run I guess I was just trying to change it up a bit. I find scalar runs to be quite boring and have been working at getting rid of that habit.



    This tune is was a well known pop hit in the 70s and is still covered quite a bit. Here the first thought was to use the melody as a jumping off point. Here I also worked with intervals as much as I could but it fell apart into a mess at some point.

     
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  2. 3waytie4last

    3waytie4last Unfluencer Gold Supporting Member

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  3. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Chord tones.
     
  4. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Well, to be able to answer your question, I'd need to do a lot of thinking and playing over lots of different tunes, record it all, and then analyse what I did. I'd have to look at it all and pick out anything that seemed like a common pattern or lick, something I did more often than other stuff. This could take hours, it could take days. And then I'd have to tab it all out. Or maybe video myself playing it.
    No offence, but that seems like a terribly tedious task, just for the dubious benefit of TGP!
    If I were a famous player, then I'd appreciate the interest, and I might do my best. Otherwise, I think I'll pass. :)

    Like Tag says, if you were to post a specific piece, we might be able to give a useful answer. (I mean, something more precise than "chord tones" which is certainly where it all starts for me.)

    Otherwise, what you're asking is like "if you were to give a public speech, what kinds of words or phrases would you use?" :rolleyes:
     
  5. JohnnyBGoode

    JohnnyBGoode Member

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    I'm kind of a Blues-Rock guy. At some point I started adding notes when I play the Blues scale, and playing less notes so it usually doesn't sound like a scale run...
    Arpeggios also became part of my playing.
    I usually use the Major scale or Harmonic Minor when I aim for specific thigs.
    Most of it just happened over time and from listenning to others... it wasn't about "the Blues is boring, what else can I learn".
     
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  6. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

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    Most people aren't willing to sound bad for the time it takes to internalize new ideas.
     
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  7. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    When I first started playing the guitar, I thought that if I learned licks I would be a clone of someone else. So that could be another reason peeps don't learn licks, besides fear of sounding bad.

    My attitude towards licks these days is to expand my vocabulary. To reproduce a lick note for note is just step one of the process. The next step is to create my own lines "in the style of" the lick I just learned. Then a bit further down the road, something in the style of that lick might emerge in an improvisation.

    The ability to analyze a lick, then create you own lines, is greatly - very greatly - aided by training your ear to recognize the sounds of the various intervals, as well as being able to identify them on the fretboard.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  8. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    Learn the neck in all positions, train your ear to hear intervals, play the sound that's in your head.
     
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  9. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Supporting Member

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    Chord tones followed by...."how am I gonna get all 12 notes into this thing"

    Not kidding. That is my goal is to be able to hear all 12 notes in any piece of music that will allow it.
     
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  10. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

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    Sounds like what you’re doing is pretty much in line with how most folks with a blues/rock base approach how to think about “where to be playing”. But with evolution of playing skills, hopefully things turn from “where to play” to “what pitch should come next” and the SOUND rather than the shape on the neck directs your playing. And the neck visualization at least for me is more based on the underlying chord than on full scales
     
  11. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I'd pick Lydian Chromatic, with secret extra note.
     
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  12. cosmic_ape

    cosmic_ape Supporting Member

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    This is the type of compound question a private instructor would be glad to address, over a series of lessons.

    It’s a long, but rewarding journey.
     
  13. Kevy_Metal

    Kevy_Metal Member

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    For the longest time, it was all Dorian and Aeolian because I could use them as both starting and anchoring points, so to speak. I knew how to get from one to the other, along with all of the notes inbetween. These days, I'm having a lot of fun with Mixolydian, although in the end it's more based in feel and what my ears are hearing rather actually saying "I'm playing this".

    You see, back around '90-91, I picked up an issue of Guitar Player Magazine, if I remember correctly, that had an article about modes and featured a chart with them all across the fretboard. Being from a small town with maybe a handful of guitar players around, I really didn't have anyone to guide with any of this information, so I learned my own way, right or wrong.

    I could visualize all of these modes up and down the neck, moving them around and endlessly practicing them. Even though I didn't know how to apply them at that time, all of the time spent practicing them baked those modes into my brain. All of these years later, I've taken that experience and continued to learn by ear, just trial and error. The more I play with other musicians, the more I'm expanding on what (and how) I've learned.
     
  14. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    Everything you wrote makes total sense and I'd bet most of us follow a fairly similar approach.

    Couple of ideas to expand on it..

    As a basic rule I find it helpful to start and resolve to chord tones. That is one simple way to have your phrases sound connected to the music. You first need to know how to play the chord progression all over the neck. When you are soloing and know where the chord tones it truly frees you up to experiment. You don't have to always use them - but you should know where they are.

    Arpeggios, double-stops, sliding 3rds, 4ths, 6ths are a phenomenal way to really learn how to connect chords and lines. Way harder to play then just running patterns. You'll know quickly if you have a handle on the chord progression trying to use them. You want to be able to intersperse all this stuff at will.

    If the goal is to improvise then the mechanical style of playing "patterns" is something you have to learn to stop doing. Way harder than it sounds.

    I started a few play along threads that most people seem to relate to. Post a take and ask for suggestions.

    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...along-bb-jazz-swing-feel-major-blues.2064297/

    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...long-soul-jazz-groove-post-your-take.2021885/

    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/play-along-isnt-she-lovely-major-scale-workout.2064011/


    Or find a backing track that resonates with you and start a new thread!

    It's hard to do but try to get comfortable with putting your own playing out there for others to hear. For better or worse it's where you are as a player at that moment. And the recordings are the best way for others to know how to give feedback that may help you improve.
     
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  15. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    That approach falls apart the moment you play over something remotely non-diatonic.

    Pattern based soloing is great when you are beginning, but the goal is to move away from it and think in terms of chord tones regardless of position.
     
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  16. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    You have to listen to music that uses other scales first.. it's kind of backwards to try to learn jazzy/diatonic playing if you don't listen to music that doesn't use it. Your ears aren't used to it and it will sound weird and unnatural.

    Listen to like, Steely Dan or King Crimson or Mahavishnu Orchestra to expand your ears first.
     
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  17. JosephZdyrski

    JosephZdyrski Member

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    I think one thing that really helps with improv in general is to not just improvise over backing tracks. But to just improvise with the chords you play sometimes. Just try to improvise a whole song then when you lock into a groove ... it could just be 2 chords or 3 maybe ... simple is better at first. Try to notice the notes in those chords and then try to think what scales have those notes. You can choose one that fits with all the chords then as you get better try to use different scales or harmonic ideas for each different chord.

    Then you won’t need a backing track to improvise and the possibilities become basically infinite.
     
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  18. Laurence

    Laurence Silver Supporting Member

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    I learned scales at one time, and then I started to mix them together (just like my favorite players) and then kinda unlearned them and started playing melodies and moans and cries as they appeared in my head.

    Learning to cover known solos is also a nice teacher.
     
  19. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Powered by Coffee Gold Supporting Member

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    :agree Some solid advice here.

    FWIW, I find myself playing arpeggios & intervals a lot now and tend to use scales and patterns more as embellishments and connectors. Like @GovernorSilver, It didn't happen over night for me either. It took decades of learning, studying, practicing, playing, gigging, recording and listening before I finally found my own voice on the instrument. If there's an easier or quicker way of doing it, I certainly haven't found it yet...
     
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  20. zztomato

    zztomato Supporting Member

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    I agree. Guitar players get quite obsessed with scales and patterns. However, there is a process to get to that point that does involve learning scales and harmony and chord theory. Once you get that stuff in your brain, you then spend your time trying to play like none of that stuff ever mattered. :D
     
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